Grieving families will start to farewell victims of the Christchurch shooting in the next few days, with some opting for a mass burial while others may repatriate loved ones to other countries.

Fifty people died after a lone gunman stormed two mosques on Friday afternoon. Families have been waiting patiently for their bodies to be released - it is tradition for Muslim burial to happen as quickly as possible after death.

Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha said police were aware families wanted bodies back quickly and police were trying to make that happen.

The first body was meant to be released on Sunday, but that was put on hold so it could be released with a second dead body.

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He said police were aiming to have bodies released mid-week. Burials would follow - some bodies may be repatriated to other countries while others may be put in the ground in a mass burial event.

"It's a very sensitive time for everyone," Haumaha said.

Yesterday blessings were carried out by Ngai Tahu and Muslim community leaders at each of the mosques. Haumaha said the blessings gave people confidence that the mosques could be reopened by the end of the week for prayers.

President of the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ Mustafa Farouk praised the work that had taken place.

"While our community is mourning, we are saddened by what took place, we are shocked, but as a community we are a resilient community. We know we are living in a country where we are welcome, that loves us.

Dr Mustafa Farouk, president of FIANZ, during their media conference in Christchurch. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Dr Mustafa Farouk, president of FIANZ, during their media conference in Christchurch. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"Our shock was heightened more because we never expected anything like that would happen in this country."

He said right-wing extremism had wanted to bring hatred and division to New Zealand communities - but they had "failed woefully".

"What they have done, if anything, has increased the love and feeling we have for our country, and the tremendous outpouring of love, aroha, in New Zealand."

He said no words were adequate to describe the level of aroha that been given to support the Muslim community.

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Work continued to support loved ones, and the process of burial was now the focus, he said.

"Many people are involved ... right from the Prime Minister to the person on the street to make sure we give these people dignified, spiritual burials ... Everything we need is provided to us."

Students attend vigil for shooting victims at Hagley Park Christchurch. Photo / Michael Craig
Students attend vigil for shooting victims at Hagley Park Christchurch. Photo / Michael Craig

The only thing that remained was for the bodies to be released.

Dozens of others were badly injured during the shootings.

As of yesterday 31 people remained in hospital, nine of whom were in a critical condition. A 4-year-old in Starship children's hospital is also in a critical condition while her father, who is in Auckland City Hospital, is serious but stable.

Many New Zealanders are now struggling to deal with the horror of what unfolded.

The Ministry of Health said it had seen a significant increase in its calls to the 1737 help line.

Just over 540 contacts were made on Sunday and a further 300 yesterday though text, online chats and phone calls – the average length of which was 38 minutes.

Yesterday some of the St John Ambulance staff who responded to the terrorist attack spoke of the horrific conditions they saw - and the pride they felt from being part of an efficient response that is believed to have saved lives.

St Johns ambulance officer Paul Bennett gets emotional while recounting his experiencing at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo / Mark Mitchell
St Johns ambulance officer Paul Bennett gets emotional while recounting his experiencing at the Al Noor Mosque. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"There was a lot of blood, a river of blood coming out of the mosque," said ambulance officer Paul Bennett, who was at the Deans Ave mosque.

"That's a scene you don't forget. It was literally flowing off terracotta tiles, amongst fatalities."

He became emotional and fought back tears as he recalled the "most horrific" scenes he had ever witnessed.

He didn't go into the mosque on Deans Ave, but approached the entrance under the protection of armed police.

"We tried to get our stretcher into the mosque but we couldn't because there were fatalities in the way. We ended up having to lift the bodies over the top of other bodies on to stretchers," he said.

"Speed was of the essence. The journey from the mosque to the ambulance to the emergency department, we knew was critical. The injuries were all critical."

"A good half of the patients going into the back of ambulances I expected to die within an hour," said Jason Watson, an ICU paramedic who was organising logistics on the ground.

"The fact that only one had was an "incredible" testament to the work done by the ambulance officers.

Mourners placing flowers on the intersection of Deans Ave and Riccarton Road near the Al Noor Mosque. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mourners placing flowers on the intersection of Deans Ave and Riccarton Road near the Al Noor Mosque. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Spencer Dennehy, 24, had only been in the job answering emergency 111 calls for nine months when she took a "very, very distressing call".

"It was very emotional, given it was our home town. I didn't realise how serious it was ... It was very, very distressing, and having to be strong for the caller, but it's very emotional at the same time."

A lady crying for her husband and 2-year-old baby was on the call, which Dennehy described as hysterical, and she told her to stay away from the mosque on Linwood Ave.

The 2-year-old could have been one of the bodies that were handed to paramedic Karen Jackson as she arrived at the mosque on Linwood Ave with armed police.

She said it was an intense situation as the shooter was still at large.

"Bodies on the floor. The walking wounded were not there, so everyone was either already deceased or very critical ... [We were] having to step over bodies and find a position between the blood and bodies to treat the patients."

The injuries she saw were mostly gunshot wounds, entry and exit wounds, internal and external bleeding, and "people deteriorating in front of us".

Flowers and messages of support and love for New Zealand's Muslim community have been placed at a police cordon in Deans Ave. Photo / Michael Craig
Flowers and messages of support and love for New Zealand's Muslim community have been placed at a police cordon in Deans Ave. Photo / Michael Craig

All staff speaking to media talked about the need to process the traumatic events of Friday.

Dennehy said she had a cry that evening at home. She also laid flowers at the memorial, which "took a bit of the pain away".

"At the end of the day, we are human. It is very emotional for us as well."

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said criminal investigation is the largest ever undertaken by NZ police.

He said 250 detectives and specialists across the country were working on the investigation, with support coming from various international agencies including the FBI and Australian Federal Police.

Bush said police believed only one person was responsible for "this horrendous event," despite there being two scenes.

He didn't however rule out others supporting the shooter and said that was part of inquiries that were still being made.

Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder following the shootings. The 28-year-old appeared in court on Saturday where he was remanded in custody without plea until April 5.

Yesterday an 18-year-old accused of sharing a live-stream of the mass shooting also appeared in court and was refused bail.

He faces two charges: one of sharing the live-stream and a second for posting a photograph of one of the mosque's attacked with the message "target acquired" along with other chat messages "inciting extreme violence".

Police have said the teen - who was granted name suppression - was not involved in the actual shootings.